A man says he appreciates me as a person and wants to make me happy. What does it actually mean?

We are friends for quite some years. The situation was that I was very sad because I felt he was ignoring me in some occasions, but actually he didn't.

I shed tears in front of him. He held my hands all the time and gave me some tight hugs. He looked into my eyes and said, he does not know I'm this much sad. He told me that he appreciates me as a person and wants to make me happy.

He is a western man, but I did not grow up in western culture. And I'm not a native English speaker. I don't really understand what "appreciate you as a person" means here. Is it a normal situation between friends? Or is he sending signal that he cares and loves?

Any suggestions are appeciated!
A man says he appreciates me as a person and wants to make me happy. What does it actually mean?
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