Honestly, what you- what a lot of people, it seems- are forgetting is that the perfect life Markos dreamed up for Elena had almost nothing to do with Stefan. He could have been any random dude off the street. The guy didn’t matter.
It was the fact that her parents were alive; Jenna was alive; Jeremy was alive and unharmed and happy.
It was the fact that her world hadn’t been touched by the supernatural that made her fantasy so perfect.
Bonnie’s grandmother hadn’t died opening up a tomb. Her birth mother was still alive, out there some where (hell, in this perfect world Grayson and Miranda were probably her birth parents.) John was alive. Vicki was alive. Caroline wasn’t a vampire.
There were no “wild animal” attacks. No one after her blood, her life. Elena hadn’t been tortured or held against her will; she hadn’t been faced with drowning multiple times.
She had never died.
Stefan was in the world because Markos needed them to be together; that’s the only reason he figured into it. He could have been any one, for all that Elena’s fantasy needed to work.
And even with Stefan there, Damon and Elena still had that connection; that spark. That scene where Stefan tells Elena that Damon is bringing someone home?
That’s all you needed to see to know, without a doubt, that not everything in this world was a perfect as it seemed.
Elena was still drawn to Damon in a way that could never compare to Stefan. But, in stark contrast to the real world, she was never brave enough to go after what she really wanted.
Her ‘perfect world’, her ‘paradise’, wasn’t as perfect as she wanted to believe because you can see the regret, the doubt, the jealousy, in that moment before she forces a smile on her face.
Even in a world where everyone is alive and happy, she still isn’t completely happy because she doesn’t have Damon. Not even Markos could take away their love for each other; not in the real world, and not in the fantasy world he created for SE.
And, at the end of the day, it was Damon’s room she was standing in.
It was her relationship with Damon that she decided was real.
That messy, complicated, messed up relationship with Damon is worth ten of her perfect, uncomplicated ‘paradise’ relationships with Stefan.
The only thing she missed, was the people that will never be in her life again.