I just had this revelatory experience while discussing Stefan/Rebekah over on ever_neutral's journal and it legit counts as meta so I'm bringing my comments over here and fleshing them out.
First, to borrow a few of Alex's words:
The thing I loved about [Stefan & Rebekah] in this episode, interestingly, was the implicit parallel to Elena/Stefan, high school dance date and all. Except you know what? Elena isn't the girl of Stefan's dreams; Rebekah is Rebekah's the person Stefan thought Elena was. Rebekah is the one with the passionate desire to be turned back human. Rebekah is the one honestly declaring that this is the dearest wish of her soul -- so she can have the whole normal high school experience, so she can grow up and fall in love and have children, &c. &c. In other words, the exact things Stefan spewed about when they first heard about the cure -- only he projected those plans on to Elena without ever asking his then girlfriend if it's what she wanted.
To which I wholeheartedly agree and Alex should take a bow and everyone should always read her episode recaps because they're en pointe and also thought provoking (i.e., THIS BRAIN SPIRAL IS ALEX'S FAULT). So, prompted by Alex's meta, I went back to watch "A View to a Kill" to check for this context, and I realize this most likely happened because Stefan wanted to seduce Rebekah, but...
STEFAN ASKS REBEKAH TO DANCE. "LET'S DANCE" from Stefan Salvatore who hates dancing, EXCEPT when he's high on blood (S1) or its the Jazz Age and his Ripper's on. He doesn't dance easily with Elena, she has to twist his arm to do it, and when he finally does dance with her he tells her that she'll need to make the most of it because it'll never happen again.
DANCE & CONTROL & SELF-EXPRESSION
How much do I love that Stefan can dance easily with Rebekah when he's consciously pretending, because that means that the effort to be real has been put aside, and in acknowledging the performativity of his actions, he can act freely and enjoy the moment and the movement and finally be real through the act of faking.
Stefan has to be conscious of his choices and his selfish endgames otherwise he's not living for himself but for some ~idea that he's trying to warp himself into fitting. Consciously manipulating Rebekah is the clarity that follows him reactively smashing whenever he's around Elena: the control of his selfish desire and the aggravated flail-raging over his inability to enforce his selfish desire
He's fighting for a fantasy endgame -- but does he even want it? -- of course not that's an ideal that he knows he should want, he should be. That's him forcing himself into a mold which he's been taught to desire for Good Reasons.
Yet watch how Stefan settles into his own skin when he acknowledges himself as an emotional Machiavellian.
And for shits and giggles, recall how Damon tried to seduce and manipulate Rebekah at the bonfire vs. Stefan's attempt at the 80s dance. Both times Rebekah knows what's up, but she goes along for the ride with Stefan because Stefan's created the right fantasy for her (even as he's struggling to find the right fantasy for himself right now; children & growing old together?).
Tantrum-throwing children desperate for love :: Emotional manipulators who try to live up to ~ideals to their detriment
This is why Rebekah and Damon hook-up when they're feeling rejected, why Stefan and Elena fall in love with a lie.
Now, in reading Alex's thoughts on still wanting Stefan/Katherine, my brain then spiralled into Stefan/Katherine :: Elena/Stefan parallels.
The reason Stefan fell in love with Elena was because she was Katherine before Katherine had cut her teeth. Elena is Katherine before she's become a master of herself and a master of manipulation. Elena is a Katherine where Stefan isn't completely outmatched by the power dynamic. Katherine/Stefan right now is more of two equals (although I still give Katherine the edge) who try to outmatch each other but both have their walls thrown up and so well-guarded that they only circle each other like an eclipse occurring every 150 years before they go to their separate corners. The irony is that Stefan, in feeling like he's TOTES GOT THIS when he's with Elena, is what allowed him to be vulnerable, to open up and let himself emotionally engage. He let his walls down with Elena because she was young and innocent and would never ever wish to hurt him emotionally
See, because Elena was the fantasy that Stefan wanted to live out. He had to know her in order to finally shake free from his tragic past with Katherine. Stefan's relationship with Elena was how Stefan won back control, won back his autonomy by choosing to give his heart rather than have his heart taken from him through deception (falling in love with Katherine's lie). With Elena, Stefan can love Katherine's image but in circumstances where he's in control (stalking Elena, withholding the truth about himself until Elena's already in love with him). Stefan becomes the role Katherine held in his own past, reliving it as the role of vampire seducer of the innocent who finds true love. All because Katherine in the 1860s and Stefan in the present can only truly open their hearts to love when they control the game, when they hold power over the emotional fallout, because they've been burned so badly in the past and losing control and being vulnerable is terrifying to them.
(Remember Katherine telling Stefan that sometimes she lets love in in Season 3? She was teaching him what she knows, because they're the same now. Only Stefan lacks Katherine's greatest means of control: running away. He stays vulnerable in Mystic Falls while Katherine sheds her vulnerability when she hits the road again.)
For Stefan, he's never going to love anyone if they force his hand; at least, he'll never be able to trust them and wholeheartedly embrace this love. He'll rage against that degree of control they have over him because of his massive insecurities when it comes to identity construction/control. Of course, the one glaring exception to this pattern is Lexi who abused the fuck out of Stefan, but who never made it about romance. Instead she invokes a platonic ideal of benevolent tough love which allowed her to re-shape his entire worldview as a vampire, making her the abusive mother of the vampire to match the abusive father of the human, shaping his core identity.
And because Stefan can never win back control from his father or Lexi, he's forever fighting to win back control from his lovers, forever righting his past wrongs. Through Elena, he righted the wrongs with Katherine. And now through Rebekah, he's righting the wrong with Elena. Rebekah wants to be human, Rebekah wants Stefan, not Damon. Stefan's no longer in love with Elena, and we're watching him fall in love with Rebekah based upon the wounds he's nursing from the disintegration of his relationship with Elena.
Rebekah is his new fantasy love where he wins back control. He fixes himself through fixing others. Stefan's always looking for a doppelganger so he can right the wrongs and get a second chance.