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Koestler is here referring to “loss of faith” not only in religion, but in western civilization and its future. (Hydie, who has had a series of emotionally and sexually unfulfilling relationships with men, falls hard for a Russian Communist who is short, unattractive, bad at foreplay, and slightly obnoxious—but has great confidence in himself and the system that he represents)
Certainly, there has always been a lot of drinking among college students, and a fair amount of sex, casual and otherwise—but things do seem to have reached new levels. Perhaps some of this can be explained in terms of Heidi’s observation, where the “loss of faith” in this case refers mainly to loss of faith in a meaningful future.

autumnpari says:
October 21, 2010 at 4:15 pm
Susan, could you maybe give me your thoughts on the “college marriage” phenomenon? Do you think it’s a healthy way to approach relationships?

Where I’m coming from: I have a good friend in a “college marriage,” and I don’t think that she or her boyfriend are experiencing much personal growth in their relationship as a result. They’ve moved into each other’s rooms, and I fear it may end badly if they decide to break up, especially since they don’t seem to have any time to be independent and alone. They study together, eat together, sleep together and they are already planning their futures around each other, including insisting that they get jobs in the same place after graduation (which may or may not happen with the current state of the economy). I saw what you said above about that not being the norm when you were dating and I was wondering what your opinion on that type of relationship is.

Susan Walsh says:
October 21, 2010 at 5:02 pm
To be honest, I wouldn’t want my own kids to be “college marrieds.” It strikes me as a very insular existence – an island of two on a college campus seems downright odd. I think it also encourages a kind of co-dependency that probably isn’t very healthy. You’re right too, that it’s high risk – if you spend the first two years of college mostly with one other person, you meet very few other people, and if the relationship ends you have no support system. In fact, I think quite a few of these college relationships just continue because the alternative is worse, not because they are fulfilling, exciting, etc. Interestingly, I’ve read that a high percentage of relationships like this start right when kids get to college. They meet at freshman orientation, grab onto one another like a life raft, and never let go until graduation. It’s a personal choice, and I wouldn’t tell someone how to be happy, but like I said, it’s not what I would wish for my own children. On the other hand, for a woman I do think it’s a better route than extreme promiscuity, which I believe is quite damaging over time for most women.