Jen Schefft’s life took an unexpected turn in 2003 when she was selected to appear on the TV reality show “The Bachelor.” The day Andrew Firestone handed her the final rose, it was a dream come true for the Mentor-born blonde.
But the fairy tale came to an abrupt finish off-camera, when she ended their engagement six months later. Schefft was back in the spotlight in 2005 as “The Bachelorette.” Following a season’s worth of televised dates, she still had not found the man she wanted to wed.
In her new book “Better Single Than Sorry,” Schefft, now a 28-year-old Chicago-based public relations professional, explains why she said no to so many, encourages other women to resist social and family pressures to marry, and makes the case that living happily ever after means living single until you find the real Mr. Right.
— Laura Taxel
Why did you write the book?
After my breakup with Andrew Firestone, it seemed like almost everybody in America had an opinion about me, and none were complimentary. Then I got more horrible press after “The Bachelorette.” People thought I was crazy for rejecting those great guys. And they were great — just not for me. Strangers would come up to me in the street and say, “Who do you think you are?” “What’s wrong with you?” or “Why are you so picky?” So I wanted to tell my side of the story, help women like me in their late 20s and 30s feel comfortable with being single, and explain why I think that not having a relationship is better than having one that’s not completely satisfying.
Any regrets about looking for love in front of millions of TV viewers?
None. Even though the odds were not in favor of things working out, there was always the possibility that they would. Maybe it wasn’t the best idea to expose my private life to the public, not once but twice. But the experience helped me figure out who I am and what I want. I learned to trust my feelings, regardless of what anyone else thinks about my choices, even when millions of people disagree with me.
Are men reluctant to get involved with you, once they realize you’re the woman famous for turning guys down?
Definitely! They think dating me is cool at first, but then they get intimidated. Maybe their friends and their moms convince them it’s too risky. I’ve gone out a few times since the final episode aired, but nothing serious.
Things are likely to get worse with the publication of this book. Why didn’t you write it under a pseudonym?
Because the guy who’s right for me will be someone who can handle the fact that I don’t want to settle for just any man. I don’t need 10 like that, just one.
What’s your opinion about online dating?
It’s a great solution to the problem of meeting new people. That gets harder once you’re older, out of school and settled in a job. You have your friends, and you know all their friends. So it’s a way to expand your circle and connect with others who are looking for a relationship, just like you.
I’m following my own advice. Instead of sitting around worrying about how to meet guys and when I’ll get married, I’m enjoying being single. I just bought my first home — a condo north of Chicago. It’s an exciting step. I’m planning to travel around the country, promoting the book in February. After that, who knows.
Jen Schefft will be speaking and signing copies of her book, “Better Single Than Sorry,” at Joseph-Beth Booksellers at Legacy Village in Lyndhurst Monday, Feb. 12, at 7 p.m. For more information, call (216) 691-7000 or go to www.josephbeth.com.