The word existential came from the Latin word "existentia", which means to exist. The very reason for existential questions is to challenge our way of thinking and our perspective. That is why, Existential questions are some of the most interesting questions to ask.
Why? Well we've all been there.
Do you ever find yourself wanting more from a conversation? Maybe you’ve gone through all of the “getting-to-know-you” questions to ask, and are wanting to know how to spice up a conversation with open-ended answers.
They’re more thoughtful than deep questions to ask and are designed to make you ponder all the possible outcomes of a situation and can have the power to make you completely rethink your perspective on life.
We’ve compiled a list of 52 existential questions to ask that can help you improve relationships, break out of your comfort zone, and discover a little more about yourself and others.
Existential Question Topics
Existential questions are questions with a wide range of deep conversation topics. While many everyday questions don’t require you to dig deep for the answers, existential questions require you to put into words what you feel on the most basic level.
DxTopics can take root in our core values, our feelings about life and death, and why everything is the way it is.
Existential questions that challenge us to ask why help us better understand the world around us and - when dealing with others - people’s motives. If we don’t know why something is the way it is, how will we ever understand it?
Life and death are perfect existential question topics because we’re all dealing with some problems and we’re all going to die. Topics like these help us see how others process such realities.
Everything is possible when asking an existential question and sometimes there’s no real answer because each question just spawns more questions.
9 Deep Existential Conversation Starters
So you’ve braved our deep conversation starters, and need a little more oomph in the conversation.
These deep existential conversation starters are the next logical stepping stone.
They’re fun, not too challenging to think about and can help you and your conversation partner feel a bit more at ease with each other.
1. Which apocalyptic dystopia do you think is most likely?
Mad Max? The Hunger Games? Black Mirror? There are plenty of futuristic stories out there.
2. Do people have a right to be happy or should they have to earn it?
Should we be happy without having to put in the work? What if our happiness comes at the cost of others’ happiness? Can we be truly happy knowing we’ve hurt someone?
3. What would you genetically change about humans to make them a better species?
Bigger feet and better hair? Or are designer babies a result of humans playing God?
4. Are there limits to human creativity?
Are some people more creative because of genetics? Will humanity ever reach a barrier where creative thinking can’t form a solution?
5. What do you think that two people must have in common to connect with each other?
Have you ever met someone and instantly hit it off with them? What was present that made you connect so easily? And the opposite? What was missing?
6. What’s the 1 piece of advice you would give others about life?
My advice: Follow the Golden Rule. Treat others the way you want to be treated and we’ll all turn out okay. This interesting game on the evolution of trust highlights why it works so well.
7. How do we know if we’re doing the right thing?
How can we be sure that when we do something nice, we’re not inadvertently harming someone else? Does the Butterfly Effect dictate our lives despite our best efforts?
8. What’s the universal language?
What’s the best way for us to better understand one another?
9. What comes to mind when you hear the word 'life'?
What brings meaning to the word, for you? What makes you feel alive?
24 Best Existential Questions
The best existential questions that will require you to think a little harder and dig a little deeper. They're questions that
10. Do you think the end or the means is more important?
Does it matter how you get somewhere as long as you’re there? Or is the journey more important than the destination? What do you sacrifice along the way?
11. Do you believe in a power greater than humanity?
Is there a God? Are we simply puppets with someone pulling the strings? What if we’re the most advanced beings in the universe?
12 .Do you think that human ethics are learned or natural?
The Nature vs. Nurture debate. Do we have an innate sense of right and wrong or do we learn all of it from our parents, peers, and society?
13. How do we measure life?
What is a life worth living? What about other living things? Are some creatures more entitled to life than others?
14. What do you think your purpose is?
Why do you get out of bed in the morning? Is your purpose written for you or do you have the power to change it?
15. Is there a god, and, if so, what is his/her nature?
If someone has created us, why? Does God want us to be happy? Does he/she even care about us?
16. Why do you think we're here?
Do we have a purpose or did we just get lucky?
17. What’s our biggest mistake as humans?
Where do humans always mess things up? Can we prevent it?
18. Is what we perceive reality or just a construct of our minds?
Are we in a computer simulation? Is our reality even real? When you think about something, does it become your reality?
19. What is a person? Is it the mind, or the body?
Our bodies are teeming with a bunch of tiny creatures that influence us in various ways, but do they dictate our thoughts and actions? Are we actually in control?
20. Does truth exist without evidence?
If a tree falls in the middle of the forest and nobody’s around to hear it, does it make a sound?
21. If you could watch everything that happened in your life until now, would you enjoy it?
We all make mistakes. Would you be able to look beyond those mistakes and forgive yourself?
22. What do we most need in this world?
What will make the world a better place?
23. What is the difference between living and existing?
Is it the feeling of grass between your toes? Enjoying the work you do every day? What makes you want to get out there and experience life?
24. What are we a part of?
From our local neighborhood to our local star cluster, what brings us all together, and on what level?
25. Where do you think we go when we die?
Heaven or Hell? Do we simply cease to exist? Are we balls of energy that have unlimited capacity to move through time and space? For an idea of what that last one would be like, give Space Engine a try if your computer can handle it.
26. Where do you think we come from?
Did the human race evolve? Did God create us in His image? Did something else happen?
27. How do you know you are not dreaming right now?
It’s time to wake up. We’ve been waiting for you, Kevin.
28. Are we alone in the universe?
This is a fun one. And if you know a little bit about The Fermi Paradox, you can have an entire conversation trying to figure it out.
29. Why do people hurt each other?
There are plenty of reasons people cause harm to one another. Are any of them warranted?
30. Is one lifetime enough time?
Some say this is all the time we get. Is it enough for you?
31. Do we want others to be more like us or do we want to be more like others?
This one changes depending on the situation. I don’t think anyone wants to be more like Granny Beatrice, driving 5 under the speed limit in the fast lane.
32. Is suicide justifiable?
Should we be allowed to decide when our lives will end? What about the people we leave behind? Side note: If you or someone you know is experiencing thoughts of suicide, call the Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. They have people willing to listen 24/7.
33. Do you think a parallel universe exists?
The idea of a parallel universe can be a tough pill to swallow, but the gist is that for every possible outcome of every possible possibility throughout every possible moment in time, there’s a universe that exists. Woah...
9 Existential Questions to Ask a Girl/Your Girlfriend
Sometimes you want to connect a bit more with the lady in your life. Or maybe you’re trying to weed out a bad Tinder date.
The following questions to ask a girl or your girlfriend should be considered with a bit more intimacy and as long as you’re listening, you’ll learn a bit more about her than you expected.
34. What makes you special?
Say this with a smile because she is special and while you have your own reasons for why, she has her own opinions about herself and they’re just as, if not more important.
35. What do you think is a sign that it’s time to let go of something?
Asking a date is useful because it can give you an indication of how she processes past relationships.
If you ask your girlfriend this, make sure she knows it should be thought of as an existential question. Otherwise, it just sounds like you’re breaking up with her.
36. Where do you find meaning in your life?
We all find meaning in different places. What she says can give you a good window into her mind and what helps her grow as a person.
37. Is humanity headed in the right or wrong direction?
This is a fun one regardless of who you’re asking. It’s interesting to hear about a person’s faith in humanity. A negative outlook isn’t always a bad thing because it can be argued that there is hope. Maybe they just don’t see all the good in the world.
38. By what standards do you judge yourself?
This is important. How people judge themselves is how they judge other people. What they think is acceptable may not be what you think acceptable.
39. What percentage of your life do you feel truly alive?
We can’t be happy all of the time, but experiencing and appreciating the bad times along with the good is all a part of feeling truly alive.
40. How do you give yourself without losing yourself?
Getting involved with someone romantically involves a whirlwind of emotions and biological processes and it’s important for the two of you to remain independent of each other while coexisting in a mutually beneficial arrangement.
41. Do soulmates exist?
Relationships require work no matter who you’re with. Is there really that one person out there “who just gets you, ya know?”
42. What is commitment?
Make sure you’ve defined this one yourself and you share it with her as early as possible in the relationship. When you both understand what the other believes about commitment, you’ll be much more comfortable with moving things forward (or with realizing she’s not the one for you!)
10 Existential, Thought Provoking Questions To Ask
Some conversations lead to thoughts you may not have had on your own. Sharing meaningful experiences with your fellow humans is a powerful way to improve and grow as a person. These thought provoking questions are specifically for igniting those heavy discussions that give you new ideas and perspectives.
These questions carry significant weight, so don't overdo them. These are the types of questions to ask when you're gazing at the stars with that special person in your life, or when you're in the mood to have mind-blowing discussions with your friends.
These questions spark imagination, wonder, and excitement about the human experience. They may even make you question everything you thought you knew. If nothing else, you're going to have a conversation that goes far beyond the average and into the unknown.
43. If life is so short, why do we do so many things we don’t like?
Is it out of necessity? Or because we don't want to acknowledge our mortality?
44. Is the meaning of life the same for animals and humans?
And does life have a true meaning in the first place?
45. Is the world a better place with humans in it?
Are we a disease to the planet, or are we on the path to something greater?
46. When does life begin?
At what point is a human being truly alive?
47. What will happen to the future of the human race long after we are gone?
Are humans destined to end up like the dinosaurs? Will our skeletons hang in the museums of the next species to evolve consciousness?
48. Is it possible for a human to fathom the true depths of reality and existence?
Or are we like ants trying to understand math?
49. Does fate exist? If so, do we have free will?
Is the book already written?
50. If there existed a perfect clone of you, would it also be you? Would it act in exactly the same manner as you (like a mirror) or would it act differently? If it acted differently then would it still be you? At what point would it not be you?
And would destroying it be considered suicide?
51. What does it mean to live a good life?
Personal happiness? Meaningful relationships? Leaving the world in better shape than when you entered it?
52. Is it possible to live a normal life and not ever tell a lie?
Are some white lies a necessary evil, and therefore not evil at all?
How to Ask Existential Questions
While they’re perfect for getting to know someone on the deepest level, you’ll be surprised at how well they help you know yourself. Use these tips below on how to ask these questions.
1. Open up your mind
Allow yourself to ponder all of the possible answers to an existential question and you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to feel comfortable asking one.
2. Be respectful
Don’t be that guy who only asks existential questions at parties. Yes, they make you sound more interesting, but these questions can be overwhelming at times. Nobody wants an existential crisis thrown in their face!
3. Have fun and relax!
These existential questions should enhance your conversations and make your exchange infinitely more interesting. As long as you keep a positive attitude and an open mind, you have the power to transform a conversation from boring to memorable!
Downloadable and Printable List of Existential Questions
Here is a downloadable and printable jpg/pdf list of existential questions (right-click the image and select Save Image As...):
Looking for More Existential Questions?
You’ve figured out the mysteries of the universe by now, right? Well, maybe you’ve figured out how you feel about them. Perfect!
Here’s some further reading in the vein of existential questions:
- Philosophical questions are another avenue that will keep you thinking.
- There are plenty of existential questions in our questions to ask a guy/questions to ask a girl article.
- Questions to ask to get to know someone is another great resource to improve your thought-provoking conversations.
- Our 85 Funny Get to Know You Questions have some creative questions that guarantee a laugh.
- Maybe you need to snap back to reality after this (if our reality is even reality.) We’ve got you covered with our list of 50 Highly-Effective Grounding Techniques.
Use a few or use them all but these 52 existential questions to ask people can truly enhance your conversations.
They’re thoughtful and interesting, but most importantly, they’re fun if you approach them with an open and creative mind. Mixing them with getting-to-know-you questions to ask and deep questions to ask will keep any conversation moving smoothly.