Does my friend like me?

When we hung out, he tried to get me to dance and he held me by the hips and he pinched my cheek. He sometimes jokingly flirts. He admits that he thinks I’m cute and he’s fantasized about me, but he says all guys think of cute girls like that, even a friend. He says he’s open to the idea of being friends with benefits and believes we could make it work because he can’t see himself dating me because he’s “too in love with the idea of being friends” and he “likes being friends too much”. But I feel like I get mixed signals because the other day, he snuck up on me and hugged me from behind with his arms around my waist. He sometimes randomly texts me “I love you”. Everyone thinks he’s only friendzoning me because he’s afraid of ruining the great friendship we have... I think so too because he has told me “I don’t ever want to lose you”, but then he also said “I will forever be yours”.
I’m confused.
Updates:
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We’ve been friends for 4 years and he’s always treated me with respect. He’s also protective... and he’s not insisting on being friends with benefits either, just suggested it and he said he can drop it if I wanted him to
We’re close and I trust him with my life so I am certain he’s not just wanting to use me...
Does my friend like me?
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