"It's not like love at first sight, really. It's more like… gravity moves… suddenly. It's not the earth holding you here anymore, she does… You become whatever she needs you to be, whether that's a protector, or a lover, or a friend."
―Jacob Black explaining to Bella Swan about imprinting
Billy Black thinks the Imprint is to make the wolf stronger. I think it's to make the wolf more stable.
Think about it.
Ignore the legend of Taha Aki and the Third Wife (The actual Quilute legend is almost the complete opposite, btw...). Ignore the disturbing undertones about the lack of choice and how the Imprint bond could be abused (there's some fantastic fanfic on that...). Ignore how poor Leah Clearwater got shafted in multiple ways.
Focus on what Meyer actually shows us about the La Push Werewolves. What were they like, before and after the imprint?
When defending the Imprint to a very skeptical Bella, Jacob tells her that it's not inherently sexual, but about what the Spirit Wolf needs.
There's a difference between 'want' and 'need'. A Want is an impulse, a desire. A Need is something far more vital, something necessary for growth and development, even if we don't want it at the time.
What would that look like, for the La Push Protectors?
Sam was upset about the fact that he couldn't go away to University, that his life and his plans had to be put on hold, that as the then-only wolf he was isolated from the people he loved.
Sam was in a relationship with Leah Clearwater at the time. Leah isn't the type to want or need protecting, and she'd push Sam to follow their original plans of going to university rather than staying in La Push. Even when the Elders told her to back off and that she couldn't see Sam, she kept pushing, because she loved Sam enough to try.
Along comes Emily, Leah's cousin and practically her sister. She initially resisted Sam's attention, until he accidentally transformed, injuring and scarring her in the process. That incident cemented in Sam a complience with isolating new Wolves until they had control over their shifting, a caution born of guilt and shame. We don't know what Emily wanted out of life, but she settled into being a home-maker and den mother pretty quickly, after she and Sam got together.
More importantly, Sam's dreams of leaving the Reservation for College and the bigger world vanished as soon as he imprinted. His dream life is a life with Emily, now, not raging at things he can't have.
Paul Imprints on Rachel, Jacob's older sister. Rachel is older than most of the imprints, in her early 20s. She's graduated, gone to College, and is deciding what to do next.
Paul has a temper, the most hot-headed of the Wolves, and the one having the most trouble controlling himself from shifting. He was the next to shift after Sam, so while he has the seniority of experience, no one is really looking at him for leadership or as an example, and he clearly isn't dealing with it well.
As the daughter of the Chieften, and someone who already built a life outside of La Push, Rachel isn't going to be impressed by Paul's temper, and he's going to have to learn control if he wants to be around her. The imprint may lead to Rachel returning Paul's feelings, but she has other options, and she knows it.
Paul will get himself under cotrol, for the sake of his Imprint, where his brothers depending on him wasn't enough motivation.
Quil was the youngest before Seth, and thrilled to be a wolf because it means he can hang out with his friends/cousins again. He mastered the change fairly quickly, doesn't complain too much about patrols, and wasn't old enough to have solid plans or a love-life to be disrupted by the transformation.
He's already fairly stable, so he imprints on Claire, a literal child who will have years before she even thinks about romance, by which time, the wolves may not even be needed anymore.
In the meantime, Imprinting provides Quil with some much-needed focus. Claire is someone for him to protect and look after, a symbol of his duty as a Protector, even after the vampires leave.
Jacob had good control of the change, but tended toward irrationality where Bella was concerned.
He'd learned the lesson of Sam and Emily, but wasn't above manipulation, gaslighting, and the threat of war between the Spirit Wolves and the Cullens to keep Bella close.
Sam and the rest of the pack were practically sitting on him to stop him from doing something stupid, and it still didn't stop him risking the treaty multiple times.
Imprinting on Renesme nipped all that in the bud. Renesme gives him a tie to Bella, while also permanently putting the crush to rest. Being a Spirit Wolf is suddenly a good thing, because as long as Jacob keeps shifting, he's functionally immortal, and won't do anything that might endanger his Imprint, like risking exposure or war.
Jared Imprints on Kim, a girl who already had a crush on him.
We don't learn much about Jared throughout the series, other than that he's fairly well-liked (enough to be used as a messenger who probably won't get shot when the Pack splits in two, and Sam and Jacob are communicating by proxy), fairly steady, and fairly fed up with all the Imprinting Drama going on around him.
In fact, he's a bit concerned and nervous about Imprinting, because it was supposed to be super-rare, but apparently isn't all that rare, at the rate the pack is going... Jared doesn't want the three-way drama that is the Sam-Emily-Leah mess. He doesn't want to imprint on a literal child.
So, he has the most drama-free Imprinting, and Imprint who is his age, and doesn't inadvertently break any hearts, keeping him as the steady second of the La Push pack.
I should point out that this is purely a fan theory, and that Stephanie Meyer probably didn't put all that much thought into Imprinting outside of it being an easy way to add and remove Relationship Drama.
However, the more I think about it, the more sense it makes.
What do you think?