It’s very common to find yourself dating multiple people — whether you’re in the early stages of looking for a monogamous partner, are committed to nonmonogamy, or aren’t sure what you want yet. No matter your intent, one thing is universally true: It can be confusing as hell. How does one authentically woo or be wooed when there are other people in the picture? 

Rest assured: Plenty of people have found ways to make their partners aware of their value despite not being exclusive. 

“It can be hard to make someone feel special, especially if there are boundaries in your relationship, such as not wanting to be exclusive or official,” says sex therapist Angela Watson. “[However,] even if this person isn’t the only person you’re romantically involved with, they are the only person in the entire world like them — it’s just how being a human being works. That means taking the time to respect and appreciate their individuality.”

Here are some ways you can make your partner feel special, whether you’re in an exclusive relationship or not.

1. Be present when you’re together.

Regardless of your relationship structure or how long you’ve known each other, one of the most important ways to let your partner know they matter is to be present when you’re around them, says intimacy coach Anisha Cummings. This means listening to them, reading their body language, paying attention when they speak, leaning in to touch them when you’re talking, and putting away your phone around them. 

One simple trick to stay present is to repeat what they say back to them, says Cummings. “It deepens the level in their body of feeling heard.”

You can also make the effort to do nice little things to accommodate them. “Consider their comfort levels whenever you’re spending time with them,” Watson suggests. “Could they use food or drink? A blanket perhaps? All of those things show effort that you truly care about them as a living, breathing human being.”

2. Do thoughtful things tailored to them.

Show the other person you remember who they are and what they like by planning activities or getting gifts that are specific to their interests. If they love foreign films, for example, you might surprise them with tickets to one, says life coach Orion Talmay. Or if they love a particular food, make it for them. 

“People feel special when they can tell there is effort behind someone’s actions,” says Watson. “So do something that shows that you took time out of your day to think about them first above yourself, with the effort being impossible to mistake.”

Sam, 27, practices this. “I pay attention to [people I’m dating] — things they especially love or care about, things they are afraid of or can’t stand, things that make them feel loved,” she says. “One of [them] feels most loved when I spend quality, focused time with him. The other feels most loved when I do things to help him, like picking up something from the store or making his bed.” It may even help to have certain things you do only with one person — Sam has shows she only watches with one person and a sex toy she only uses with another.

3. Tell them what they mean to you. 

There’s never any harm in telling someone you’re seeing what you appreciate about them, whether you’re just getting to know them or have been seeing them non-monogamously for a while. 

“Many people struggle to communicate their feelings through words, so being able to explicitly tell someone that they are special and they matter to you is a huge act that can quell any doubts that your partner might have,” says Talmay. If you’ve only been on a few dates, this may mean telling them they look great, that they’ve been on your mind, or that you’re attracted to their sense of humor. If you have a more serious nonmonogamous relationship, you may need to up the ante to convey the depth of your feelings. 

“I try to tell (and show) my partners that they aren’t replaceable — I’m attracted to them for them and to other people for who they are,” says Blue, 27, who is nonmonogamous. One of Blue’s partners once conveyed this by saying, “Sometimes I have a lot of tabs open in my head, but there’s always one about you. Even if I’m not on that tab talking to you, I’m reminded of things you like or don’t, and I miss you.”

There’s never any harm in telling someone you’re seeing what you appreciate about them, whether you’re just getting to know them or have been seeing them non-monogamously for a while.

4. Set boundaries around your other relationships. 

Transparency is key. Define what type of relationship you’re looking for, or be upfront about not knowing what you want yet. Also communicate what you want to know and not know about the other people who may be in the picture for the person you’re seeing. 

Some people may set no limits on what each person can do with other people or how much they can talk about it. Others may want more restrictions. For example, perhaps you’re not comfortable sleeping with someone who is also sleeping with other people. Or perhaps you are, but you just prefer not to hear about their other encounters.

Catherine, 28, is in a committed nonmonogamous relationship, and set a boundary with her primary partner that if there’s something she wants to do, like checking out a new restaurant, they’ll check it out together before she goes with any other partner. 

5. Let them know when you’re thinking of them. 

“I send [the people I’m seeing] little messages throughout the day when something makes me think of them, and they do the same for me,” says Sam. These small communications can go a long way toward letting someone know they’re on your mind. 

“Whether or not you’re in a serious relationship or just seeing a handful of people casually, there’s no better way to make someone feel special than by going out of your way to treat them with human decency,” says Watson. “Nobody wants to feel used; they want to feel like the time spent in any capacity was meaningful in some way.”