What is a "clean slate?"

A "clean slate" is a precursor to building rapport. It means entering into an encounter in the spirit of discovery, in a state of mind characterized by openness and spontaneity. It also means being in the moment.

The first time two people are together, we can say in effect that a new play is about to open. The dialogue and drama are unfolding right then and there. There shouldn’t be any preference or investment in any specific outcome, but rather a steady openness to discovering how you feel being together. Unfortunately, too often, the stage has already been set, the dialogue scripted, and the relationship is doomed before it ever begins.

Preconceived notions about what is supposed to happen, and the kind of person and relationship you’re looking for, all contaminate the “clean slate.” Instead of responding to someone spontaneously, you’re measuring the person against pictures in your head and not assessing the level of rapport you’ve achieved or discovering how you feel being together. If the person you are with for the first time matches your pictures, the tendency is to assume greater relationship potential than is in fact present, making a disillusioning crash inevitable. A “sight unseen” selection process misses out on far more reliable information about relationship potential. More often than not, the person you end up developing a relationship with is not one who matches those pictures.

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About Daniel Linder, MFT

Daniel Linder

Relationships. I was born with a keen sense about relationships, was always assessing how close and intimate people are with each other. I had a knack for relationships. The importance of relationships cuts to the core of who I am. The combination of clinical training, 25 years of professional experience treating dysfunctional, non-intimate couples and families, as well as rigorous self analysis has given me a lot to work with. I put what seemed to come naturally to me under a microscope in an effort to break the process of building healthy relationships down to concrete essentials: Understanding of Basic Principles, Communication Skills, Self-realization and Intimacy.

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