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Jen Schefft may have won the popular reality contest The Bachelor in 2003, but she dumped Andrew Firestone, the bachelor in question, because, she said, she didn’t want to settle on the wrong guy.

Then she was the chooser on the sequel, The Bachelorette, where she stunned the two finalists by saying that she didn’t want to commit to either of them.

Why, she wondered, was she reviled, rather than respected, for not rushing to the altar?

Her response is Better Single Than Sorry: A No-Regrets Guide to Loving Yourself and Never Settling, which reminds women that you’re OK if you’re not in a relationship.

As she points out:

• There have never been more single adult women in the U.S. than now.
• We have to learn to find enjoyment by ourselves and not through someone else.
• The odds are that each of us will be alone for parts of our lives, so we can’t look for eternal happiness in a relationship with a guy.

The message here is: You can be alone and not lonely.

The book does stretch this point like salt water taffy and could be condensed. But hey, publishers like longer books, and there are points worth mentioning.

Schefft talked to women in all stages of relationships. One said she settled for a guy and now is divorced. “At the time, I thought he was the best I could get,” she told Schefft. “As I have gotten more confident and more experienced with age, I realize that I deserve so much more.”

Schefft of course points out the advantages of being single. “It forces you to build more of a network in the world,” she says. “If you think about it in the right way and not as something tragic, you can become a much more interesting person.”

Natch, she talks about and other hook-up opportunities. But she encourages women to set standards, which, like air in a tire, help you enjoy the ride.

Hobbies are encouraged as part of embracing choices and freedom. “Pottery? You’re not going to meet a guy there!” a well-wisher advised. But Schefft points out that “not everything you do must revolve around finding your future husband.”

Feel good about yourself, be enterprising, be happy, and, sure enough, good things come to you like a boomerang.

She also advocates gathering for what one group called “self promotional nights” with girlfriends on weekends, the hardest time for single people. On such nights you say only positive things about each other and pump each other up.

Pumping up self-esteem is the raison d’être of this book.

Another tip: If you don’t have a date for a party, think of how many couples will get into fights on the way there, or will be icily silent on the way home. Think about some bad moments with an ex.

That will make you thankful for the possibilities ahead, instead of worried about the pain that might await you.

Women who get married may be applauded for landing a guy, but women who are single — including those who call off engagements and marriages — deserve the same respect, if not more.

“The truth is, most of us could be married if we really wanted to be,” Schefft says. “It’s just that we’ve made the choice not to settle — something so many people can’t seem to understand.”

But once you’ve been divorced, many women know that they would rather be alone than with the wrong person again. As Schefft concludes, you can be the architect of your own happiness, with or without a man.

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