we're talking a very close 3+ year friendship, and the guy thinking/saying he's "getting in the way" of the me finding someone and "wanting to avoid hurt" if the time came that I found someone and had to drift away from him. yet doesn't explain why he's suddenly decided this step was necessary.
what do you think would be running through his head/do you think it's because it hurts him to deal with [some issue] that he's therefore completely ignored me/hasn't told others/apparently refuses to tell them much (I've tried to see if he'll at least explain to them if not to me)? they're all like "yeah he doesn't seem to want to talk about it" and even his brother said "I have no idea why, he doesn't want to give me a straight answer."
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You don't know about guys much , do you? We tend to solve the problem ourself and not bothered anyone. We don't talk about our " feeling".
My guess is
A). he too much of a pussy and/or not confident enough to go for you. So after 3 year+ of bitching around , playing with joke and casual flirt! he tired of it and confused. He want a fresh start with a new girl. Too much stress.
B). He never like you more than friend. He friendzone you a long time ago but as a good close friend, felt sorry for you and hope you found someone good to marry/etc. the text about " oh I can't go for her anyway" was just a moment of weakness and he really is just joking and flirting around like always.
You going around bothering his friend and family to get him to talk will not help. Let him deal with his issues by himself like a man. He will be ready to talk when he is ready.