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Don't Have A New Year's Eve Kiss? Here's How To Have Fun Regardless

New Year’s Eve can be full of mixed emotions. On one hand, it’s the perfect excuse to break out that velvet romper you’ve been stashing in the back of your closet for months. But unfortunately, you may also have to hang out with your friends who are happily coupled-up and ready for that Insta-worthy midnight smooch. If you don’t have a New Year’s Eve kiss, whether because you're single or because your love is long-distance, you might be tempted to hide in the bathroom when the ball drops to avoid the makeout sessions happening all around you. But with the right strategy and a little confidence, you can totally own the moment — no midnight kiss needed.

Although NYE may feel like it’s all about the romance, it doesn’t have to be that way. “There are so many obligations in life. Kissing shouldn’t be one of them,” licensed clinical social worker and relationship expert Dr. Darcy Sterling tells Elite Daily. “Start off the new year by setting your intention to only kiss someone because you want to rather than because you feel you should.” Maybe you just got out of a relationship, and kissing is so not on your priority list right now. Or maybe you’re attending a small party where you know there won’t be any appealing hookup prospects. Perhaps you do have a committed partner, but they won’t be with you on NYE. None of these scenarios should ruin your holiday or your chance for an iconic Instagram photo shoot. (Document! That! Look!)

For better or for worse, the tradition of kissing on New Year’s has literally been around for centuries. It goes way back to the Roman Empire, when people allegedly made out with each other during an annual festival to celebrate Saturn, the god of agriculture. The New Year’s kiss continued to be popularized in folklore and pop culture throughout history, leading many people today to feel pressured to make a midnight smooch happen at all costs. But though some old folk traditions consider kissing at midnight to be good luck, I’d like to think your luck can change depending on your attitude.

Instead of running away Cinderella-style before the clock strikes midnight, Sterling suggests pulling out your phone to text the people you love. “Decide that your first action in the New Year will reflect your priorities by contacting those people who mean the most to you,” she says. “Wish them well. By the time you’re done, the kissing will be over.” After all, midnight is just one moment of the evening. Before you know it, that time will have passed, and everyone will be back to talking and hanging out as usual.

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You could also band together with your other friends who don’t have midnight kisses on deck. That way, you’ll feel like part of a team rather than awkwardly left out of the mix. Or if you’d like to avoid the celebrations entirely, that’s OK, too. “If you’re worried you won’t be able to joyfully ring in the new year without someone to kiss, make plans to bypass the whole ordeal,” Sterling suggests. Hit up a midnight movie premiere or even a midnight yoga class. There are so many ways to ring in the holiday that don’t involve kissing anyone. If the first decision you make all year is to do your own thing, rather than ascribe to some predetermined cultural norm, your new year is off to a bold AF start.

If you’re single and bummed about it, Sterling offers some wisdom: “You shouldn’t make your happiness contingent on having a partner,” she says. “Two halves don’t make a whole.” The only person you need to love this NYE is you, no exceptions. And if that natural self-assurance shines through, the stroke of midnight doesn’t have to be uncomfortable at all. Take a celebratory selfie while all your friends are kissing, when you know you can snag the best lighting in the room. And by all means, be the one to initiate the Champagne toast, if that’s your thing.

Whether you decide to go all out or enjoy a chill night in, make your New Year’s Eve reflective of how you want to treat yourself this year — with kindness and zero judgment. Midnight kiss or not, you’re the whole package (and a dang good catch).