Single in the City

Dating. It's a crazy thing. Finding someone interesting and doing whatever you can to impress them. Hoping for a fleeting chance of seeing them again. Rinse and repeat. It isn’t for the squeamish.

Me, I’ve been back in the dating game ever since getting the relationship pink slip last January. Apparently my encyclopedic knowledge of the National Hockey League and library of Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes on VHS weren’t enough to keep her interested. Can’t image why.

That’s OK. My mother accepted the fact that grandchildren are going to be a ways off about the time I wrote a fantasy novel. She renewed this belief when I started doing an audio podcast version of said novel a few months after the breakup.

Whatever. My dozens of listeners in China love me.

Even though I’ve been back on the market (or rather, clearance bin) since last winter, I’ve only recently started making the effort to take another shot at dating.

I knew I wasn’t going to meet anyone while sitting all alone in the dark listening to the Smiths for hours on end. So I made changes in my diet, took up yoga and dropped more than 20 pounds. To use the vernacular of the time, it was time to get my groove back.

Meeting people for me can be a challenge. I'm not in college anymore—I've got a political day job with unpredictable hours. And I’m in a behind-the-scenes position that keeps me hidden away in a Batcave-like control room.

So, how to meet people?


When I was ‘between girlfriends’ a few years ago, I gave speed-dating a shot, the goal being to meet a bunch of different people in an hour. If I enjoyed talking to a particular lady, I indicated that on a sheet. If she enjoyed talking to me, we were allowed to contact each other.

Essentially, this is a grown-up version of someone passing you a “Do you like me? Check Yes or No” note. While the speed dating was a great crash course in meeting people, I didn’t meet anyone worthwhile (nor anyone close to my age, for that matter).

I’ve had better luck meeting people through friends, so I decided to expand my inner circle a bit. In my quest to add folks to my roster of friends, I came across two great Lansing networking groups.

First, I made a bunch of friends through the Mid Michigan TweetUp, which is held once a month (search for @MidMichTweetUp on Twitter) at varying locations. I met a lot of like-minded folks there and have cultivated some great friendships.

Another group that started on Twitter is the Lansing Breakfast Club. It meets at a new location every Wednesday morning at 7 a.m. It is a nice way to start the day (look for the #LansingBreakfast tag on Twitter), and I’ve made a lot of friends there, too. Both groups can be found on Facebook, and were started by Capital region young professionals who were hoping to connect with others in a casual environment.

One of the great things about the Capital region is the number of entrepreneurs and creative types around. These people help bring events to town, which are great places to meet people with similar interests. A good example is Ignite Lansing, which was last held at the Temple Building in Old Town.

Michigan State University (MSU) draws people to our region and a majority of the women I’ve dated while living in Lansing have attended MSU. The university does help restock the dating pool, as quite a few MSU students tend to stick around after graduating or attend for grad school. I’m not talking about freshman co-eds. C’mon.

Go Places

Lansing is a great city for going on dates. Seriously. There's tons of stuff to do.

One thing I always seem to forget is how expensive dating can be. Going out for sushi and martinis is fun—but it can add up. One benefit to being single since last January is that I paid off a credit card and treated myself to a solo vacation in the Upper Peninsula and Mackinac Island.

Dating in Lansing can be affordable as long as you pay attention. There are cheap things to do around town, like going to the Woldumar Nature Center for a picnic and a hike. All they ask for is a $1 donation.

East Lansing is very walkable, which is convenient. You can eat dinner at El Azteco or Sushi Ya, have dessert at Melting Moments, grab a drink at Woody’s and conclude with air hockey and Ms. Pac-Man at Pinball Pete’s.

Downtown Lansing makes for a grand date location too, especially in the summer. Hit up a Lugnuts game for starters. I wouldn’t take a first date to a Thirsty Thursday, though—those $2 beers can sneak up on you.

Want a classy place for a dinner date? Try the Knight Cap. Grab drinks at The Exchange afterward and stick around for Skoryoke—karaoke with a live band. You can follow @ExchangeLansing on Twitter, for the latest specials.

Old Town is another great place for a date. Gallery walks are free and fun on a sunny afternoon, with options like Pablo’s Panaderia, Mama Bear’s and Sir Pizza available if you want to add lunch. Preuss Pets is great for fish lovers; if the object of your affection is musically inclined, swing on by Elderly Instruments to try out a guitar or ukulele. If you find yourself on the morning side of the date in Old Town, I'd suggest breakfast at Golden Harvest.

If you want to do something a bit out of the box, take a date to the Demmer Shooting Sports, Education and Training Center at MSU. You can rent rifles and pistols for the firing range or grab a bow for archery. Don’t worry, they teach you how to use your weapon. It makes for a very unique date.

As a beyond college-aged professional stampeding toward his thirties, I can tell you that meeting people in Lansing can be a challenge. But the Capital region is a great place for a date. It’s cheaper than dating in a big city, has some great pockets of activities and offers some out-of-the box ice breakers.

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Daniel J. Hogan is a freelance writer and the creator of the Magic of Eyri Podcast. His mother insists he’s a nice boy. Follow Daniel on Twitter: @danieljhogan 

Dave Trumpie is the managing photographer for Capital Gains. He is a freelance photographer and owner of Trumpie Photography.


Dan Hogan at Pinball Pete's

with his fantasy novel The Magic of Eyri

Oldsmobile Park, Home of the Lansing Lugnuts

Pablo's Panaderia in Old Town

At Flat Black and Circular in East Lansing

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie

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