ASHLEY JUDD'S LOVE ADVICE: 'PLAY THE FIELD AS LONG AS YOU CAN!'

Published on: February 2, 2004

Girls, if you want to be happy, then play the field, have lots of boyfriends and don't be in any hurry to get married, advises Ashley Judd.

The "Where the Heart Is" star -- acting branch of the singing Judd clan -- cut a swath through Hollywood leading men before marrying Scottish race car driver Dario Franchitti two years ago.

And the 35-year-old actress says she has no regrets over waiting to wed.

"No one has to get married," said Ashley, whose romantic partners have included Robert De Niro, Michael Bolton, Matthew McConaughey and Lyle Lovett.

"I wasn't sure whether I would or not. I never felt in a hurry to get married.

"But after I met Dario nearly five years ago, I was enthralled. He was everything I dreamed of in a man -- he lives life to the fullest, he travels the world, he loves excitement and adventure. He's the perfect guy for me!

"I loved working, traveling and doing everything I wanted to do, so I had no desire to settle down at age 20 or 24. I'm glad I waited until my early 30s to get married.

"I think it's important for young women to know who they are and what they want out of life before they get married. Just because you fall in love, it doesn't mean it's going to last forever. I had a lot of romantic breakups.

"So it's essential to meet men, have fun and not be serious about everything. I liked being a single woman. I had fun.

"And with Dario, I'm still having fun!

"As an actress, I have met the most fascinating people and I've been blessed. I didn't lack for companionship. And I almost always remained friends with men after I broke up with them.

"But I never wanted a traumatic divorce. I just didn't want to go through that, ever. So I waited and waited.

"I'm glad I did."

Ashley and Dario were married at Skibo Castle in Scotland on Dec. 12, 2001. They have homes in Scotland and Los Angeles, along with a 1,000-acre farm in Tennessee.

"Dario and I will never settle down in one place," Ashley said. "We just love being together and traveling. Even when we are apart, we're still emotionally together."

Ashley's advice to single women is simple -- enjoy yourself!

"Too many young women get all heartbroken when they break up with their boyfriends. But there is a world of wonderful men out there.

"And it's not good to stay heartbroken for long!" -- PATRICIA NOLAN