Like many, I watched Stranger Things 2 in a total of about maybe two days. I hopped onto the Stranger Things train fairly late, having watched the first season for the first time this past September. That being said, it didn't take me long to become hooked on the plot, the characters, and trying to find out how in the hell to get Will Byers back from the Upside Down.
And, like many, I'm sure it was a fairly understood fact that Steve Harrington was an asshole who did not deserve Nancy Wheeler. But, that being said, I loved Steve, because I have known Steves, I am friends with Steves, and I have dated Steves. And to be honest, with the way that season one was wrapping up, I was fairly positive that Steve was as good as dead when he decided to go back into the Byers's house after Nancy (smartly) told him to leave. I was ready for Steve to get caught in that animal trap Jonathan and Nancy had set up on the floor and for the demogorgon to promptly eat him up, leaving Steve Harrington as merely just the filler character to keep her away from the (clearly) budding relationship between her and Jonathan, at least for a short while.
But BOY am I so glad that's not what ended up happening. In that moment, Steve Harrington totally changed. It was one thing for him to tell off his friends, go back and clean off the "Nancy the Slut Wheeler" from the cinema sign, and admit his wrongdoings to Nancy himself, but to then go back into the house when there was CLEARLY DANGER that would come from going back changed EVERYTHING. I wasn't disappointed to see Nancy end up with Steve in the end of season one. I think it further proved that he was worth giving a second chance, but it was clear that Nancy's mind wasn't at ease. In a way, Steve's character remained sort of how he was in the first season in the sense that he was merely a brief distraction from Nancy's true feelings that lied with Jonathan.
Now I will outright admit I am SO pro-Steve Harrington because I, like many of my girlfriends, tend to see the good in people even when there seems to not be any worth finding. Steve is a downright mean person in the first season. He mirrors any high school or college ex-boyfriend you know that seems more concerned about drinking, looking cool in front of his friends, and objectifying women than he does actually becoming an adult and grown man. Steve was set up to not seem like the right choice, and he isn't, not for Nancy. Because I relate to Nancy so much. She has a large moral backbone, she wants to do the right thing, to be caring, look out for her brother, his friends, and all those she surrounds herself with. She's the girl that goes to Barb's house every week for dinner with her parents, dances with Dustin at the Snow Ball when no girl will dance with him, and willingly puts herself in harms way to not just help Jonathan, but her brother, the town of Hawkins, and those she doesn't even know all that well.
Her main driving force is by far to bring justice to the loss of Barb so that Barb's parents can have closure, but also because she knows what's right and that justice is not being given to anything that has happened in Hawkins. All and all, she's a good person, and although she may not fully know who she is, she helps others to become better people. And by others, I mean Steve Harrington. Because without Nancy being Nancy, Steve would still just be who he was at the beginning of season one. Without Nancy ending things with him, admitting that she's not in love with him, he never would have developed as much as he has as a character, and Nancy would not have developed as much either. Though there wasn't anything significantly wrong with Steve and Nancy's relationship, it just didn't have the chemistry and understanding that Nancy has in her relationship with Jonathan. Her relationship with Jonathan is mature and grown up. When she is with Steve, they simultaneously (and without really knowing) hold each other back from becoming the people they are meant to become. Because Steve can't fully grow and develop as a human being without losing someone as perfect for him as Nancy, and Nancy can't grow without realizing she is being held back due to shaping Steve into a better person when she doesn't even know who she really is.
So although I will always love the idea of Steve and Nancy, I love the idea of Steve and Nancy separately so much better. It opens the door for Steve's big-brother-esque relationship with Dustin, in order to further help him in becoming a more responsible, adult man that he simply couldn't be while he was with Nancy. So Nancy shows women such an important factor when it comes to a healthy and long-lasting relationship: individual and coinciding growth. Nancy can now grow in her new relationship with Jonathan, a person who she confidently knows she loves, without basing her relationship on "bullshit" as she did with Steve. She has more room to be the best version of herself, and though it may be difficult for Steve moving forward, in the end, not being with Nancy will help Steve to move forward and on to what is to come. She doesn't try to "fix" Steve, or force him into understanding where she is coming from when they are simply just not in the same place in life. She understands that this is now becoming a lost cause, that perhaps her relationship with Steve merely existed because of its convenience. But that even so, they will both end up alright. There truly is no use in remaining with someone who she "likes," but doesn't necessarily "love."
And so she ends up with Jonathan, because Jonathan knows who he is, knows his feelings for Nancy, and understands her. The addition of understanding is what Steve and Nancy's relationship lacks. With some help from Murray, Nancy comes to terms with what she is running away from, which is realizing, simply, that she is allowing herself to remain in a relationship that she thinks is right and she can salvage, when she should really be with the person she knows is right instead. I breathed a sigh of relief to have Nancy finally come to terms with this. We all knew she would get there.
And who knows, maybe later in life Steve and Nancy find one another again and discover they are both better people, better significant others, for each other. Perhaps their growth will bring Nancy to a place of no longer feeling the need to fix or find problems, but to simply be. Until then, I applaud Nancy for doing what is right for her, a rule of thumb many women, including myself, would bode well with doing in our own relationships and lives.