This has been bothering me a lot lately, not only with the question of consent but also with how every character and a lot of fandom now disregards Elena’s decisions and emotions to the “Sire Bond.” I am still hoping that it is not real because the writing earlier this season, for it was just too sloppy for me not to hope it wasn’t done on purpose. But they have made one thing clear: The Sire Bond does not affect how you feel.
Let’s start with the obvious:
Tyler: The sire bond affects how you act, not how you feel
This was the way the writers were trying to express this. Yes, it is rather conflicting with how Tyler acted earlier (but this goes into sloppy writing again and hoping that it isn’t real). He had to do everything Klaus said, but he still hated him. You can see this when Tyler was asked to bite Caroline. Tyler expressly said “NO”. Telling him to bite Caroline did not make him want to bite Caroline, it did not make him not regret biting Caroline, but it DID make him bite Caroline. Thus, the sire bond did not affect how he felt.
Nandi: A vampire only bonds to her sire when she has feelings for him before she turns. Human feelings. Vampirism only heightens those emotions.
Here the writers expressly say what we already know. Elena had feelings for Damon. That is the only way for the bond to even form so denying that she had them is illogical and out of place. A sire bond is love that gets wired wrong during a transition with the blood of the sire. Her feelings for Damon existed before the sire bond, before she turned. Arguing otherwise makes no sense when the writers specifically created this scene to make it clear.
There is also the difference between the feelings that Tyler had for Klaus and the feelings that Elena had for Damon that affect the sire bond. Tyler felt gratitude towards Klaus. I genuinely think that this wasn’t a thing just created because of the sire bond but even without it. Tyler still wouldn’t have to turn, Tyler would still be thankful for that. This could explain a lot of his behavior early on.
Elena argues: We have seen this time and time again this season. Elena often disagrees with Damon. Here are the examples -
Damon tells Elena to feed on blood from the vein - Elena still goes hunting with Stefan, she still refuses to drink from people.
Damon tells Elena to feed on college girl - Elena refuses and compels her away, exclaiming that she “I’m still me. I still have the same feelings, Damon.”
Damon tells her not to go after Connor - Elena argues, says she is strong enough and Damon concedes.
Elena doesn’t initially kill Connor - she gives him a chance to get away, then kills him when he angers her. Elena admits that she “lost control” of her anger.
Damon argues for Stefan - Elena continuously ignores Damon’s pleas to go “easier on Stefan” “You should have called Stefan” and “He was doing this for you”. These do not affect Elena’s decision to not trust Stefan and to break up with him because of her growing feelings for Damon.
Damon doesn’t trust Shane - Damon threatens Shane, questions him, and openly admits to not trusting him. Elena is not affected. She continues to hold some level of trust.
The frat party - Elena stops feeding and feels guilty for having fun and dancing with Damon, leaves the party despite Damon trying to keep her there, Damon argues that she is like him and that he makes it fun and that’s better, Elena cries to Stefan that it was not fun
Matt - Elena forcefully stopped Damon from attacking Matt, then proceeded to argue with him about her choices.
Elena not going inside during 4x06 - Elena refuses to listen to Damon and openly runs away from him. The curse and her feelings of self hate fighting against his orders.
Not wanting to leave Damon - “What Damon? No” and kissing him goodbye. Still openly protesting about leaving and feeling the need to leave.
All of these show the basic idea that, while Elena must listen to Damon’s “orders” she can protest if she does not want to do them, she can even resist to a certain extent. This means when she does something without much argument that Elena agrees.
Most of these have to do with trust. Elena trusting Damon with Jeremy during 4x07 and 4x11. Elena choosing the red dress. Elena killing Connor. Elena did not protest despite being shown that she can openly protest.
Elena’s Feelings: A lot of what Elena has done so far has been very consistent with her previous characterization. She continued to stay with Stefan for some time, despite the fact that being with Damon would make Damon happy. She felt guilty after having fun with Damon and feeding people despite the fact that Damon didn’t want her too. She felt guilty eating people despite Damon saying that it was nothing to be ashamed about and its the right way to be a vampire.
One of Damon’s most direct orders was for Elena to “Not even think like that” when she said she might be better off dead. If the sire bond was emotionally based it should have gotten rid of her suicidal thoughts (not to mention her shame at being a vampire and feeding on people) but an episode later she was still talking about ending it and only resisting because of Jeremy.
She only got over her suicidal thoughts and shame once she went through 4x06. If the sire bond worked on an emotional level and that wasn’t just character development it should have struck much earlier.
So in summary: The sire bond, if it exists, works purely on a physical level. If Elena does not want to do something, she can openly protest and argue but must follow through. Since Elena a) was never commanded to sleep with Damon and b) never protested doing so, then the sire bond was not put into effect. The same goes for trusting Damon with Jeremy and breaking up with Stefan.
Therefore, every time someone says “Elena doesn’t have a choice” and she gets that annoyed look and tells them that’s not how it works. She MEANS it. That is not how it works. Elena and the writers are trying to express this. Maybe the characters, and the fandom, should start to listen.