Duluth student's dating guide an underground hit

Don't worry, parents, your daughters are safe with Andrew Winkler ... but you might want to keep them locked up just in case. While the recent Marshall School graduate isn't on the market, a self-published book of his has the potential to unleash...

Andrew Winkler
Though writing wasn't his strong suit growing up, Andrew Winkler's DIY "The Secret Guide to Dating" has found an audience in the Twin Ports. Submitted photo

Don't worry, parents, your daughters are safe with Andrew Winkler ... but you might want to keep them locked up just in case.

While the recent Marshall School graduate isn't on the market, a self-published book of his has the potential to unleash a sea of suave teenage playboys upon the Northland.

"A lot of girls assume we know this stuff -- we don't," said Winkler, whose "The Secret Guide to Dating: A Manual for the Average High School Guy" has been circulating in and around the Twin Ports.

The book started as a senior project at Marshall, which "A" and "B" students are rewarded with as a way to get out of exams. These projects are no walks in the park, however.

"I think it's 30 hours minimum you have to put into them," said Winkler, who will be attending the University of Minnesota Duluth this fall. "I put in a lot more time than that -- probably like five times. [Laughs]"


The young love guru got the idea for the "Guide" because a lot of his classmates were struggling in the dates department.

"They always asked me for advice, because I've been dating the same girl for about a year and a half now," he said, adding with a laugh: "I don't know, I guess they thought I had it together."

Although reactions to the finished product have been overwhelmingly positive ("colorful" is actually the word Winkler used), that support for his project wasn't always there.

"Some of my teachers were kind of iffy on it, like 'Is he trying to write a pickup book? Is he trying to be a ladies' man when he's not? Or is he trying to be the next Don Juan?'" Winkler said. "Not really. I'm still dating the same girl I was then; nothing's really changed."

Its 50 pages of content -- with chapters ranging from the blunt "How to Be Attractive" to the surprisingly useful "56 Date Ideas" -- quickly won over any authoritative naysayers.

"All of the teachers liked it," Winkler said. "They thought it was cute, especially the date ideas."

And, even though Winkler's holding steady with his gal, he occasionally turns to his "Guide" for some tips.

"I actually have used just about everything I put in my book -- everything," he said. "It's kind of weird, but there are good guidelines to follow in any situation, no matter who the girl is. It's just social guidelines of what to do and what not to do, what's acceptable and what's not acceptable.


"... As far as chivalry goes, when you're actually dating it really helps. When I'm really stressed out sometimes, I kind of forget about some of it and my girlfriend starts complaining to me."

Winkler prepared for his senior project by reading a stack of notable dating guides, such as Neil Strauss' notorious "The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists."

"It's very coarse -- and almost primitive -- but it does have some things in it that you wouldn't notice otherwise," Winkler said of "The Game," which was recommended to him by a friend.

A simple lesson he learned from Strauss, for example, is that you shouldn't approach a potential mate from the back, as you'll probably scare the crap out of them. Or, Winkler pointed out, at a bar or social situation you want to maneuver yourself so the lucky lady (or dude) you're chatting up isn't looking past you at a busy dance floor or whatnot.

"You wouldn't think about that, but, once I figured that out, I realized that I had been talking to girls like that a ton," Winkler said, "and they just got distracted and started walking over toward another friend behind me -- and I would totally be ditched.

"So, it's just little things, and if you can kind of put those all into one guide, even if you know most of them, you're going to pick up a lot from the 10 or 20 percent of the stuff you didn't know. And it makes a big difference."

The only section of Winkler's "Guide" that borders on counterintuitive is its list of pickup lines, which are, more often than not, embarrassingly cheesy ("Let's make like a fabric softener and Snuggle" being just one example).

"The cute pickup lines are OK, but the raunchy, coarse ones ... you'll get slapped," Winkler said, explaining that he added a lot of them just for laughs and, after all, it was a school project.


His personal favorite? "There's something wrong with your phone ... it doesn't have my number."

"That actually works," Winkler said. "I'm dead serious, too. I've seen my friends use it. I haven't personally used it, because I figured that one out after I was dating."

Girl in tow and schooling secured, Winkler's next move is finding someone to put out his "Guide."

"I actually have a lot of people who want me to get it published -- even parents who bought the book at my graduation party," the future Bulldog said.

While everything is just in the beginning stages, Winkler is already working on securing financial backing and landing a foreword from a prominent relationship expert.

"That would really give my book credibility," Winkler noted. "I wouldn't be just another kid."

Still, even if he finds success in another field (Winkler has enrolled in UMD's pre-med program, after all), none of the estimated 250-plus hours of effort Winkler poured into the "Guide" have been in vain.

"Most of my teachers said I was terrible at writing -- just terrible. Like 'You're not good ... at all,'" Winkler said with a big laugh. "So, I kind of took up this project hoping to improve my writing skills, especially before college and before I have to do résumés.

"It's a really good skill to have, because they are your first impression with some people. I mean, it's a piece of paper and that's you."

Recent Marshall School graduate Andrew Winkler's "The Secret Guide to Dating: A Manual for the Average High School Guy" is available now. E-mail for ordering information.

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