Really need a male perspective - why is my guy friend acting like this?

I’ve had a childhood friend that I’ve know since we were little kids. My family is close with his and we have been around eachother a lot. When we became teenagers, he began to express interest in me romantically. As a friend, we are great but there is one problem - our personalities clash and I knew we would not be happy in a romantic relationship. It would be a lot of arguing and wouldn’t be healthy. Because of this, I’ve turned him down romantically multiple times.

Now we are adults, I’m 25 and he’s 29. He’s been there for me consistently but I think I’ve hurt him because of the rejection over the years. As of recently, we ended up meet a bit more to catch up and we ended up sharing a long passionate kiss. It just kind of happened out of nowhere and I don’t think either of us expected it. We fell asleep cuddling and then kissed more in the morning and then I left for work (nothing sexual happened just kissing).

I brought it up to him a couple of days ago and asked how he felt about the other day and he said “I don’t want to risk our friendship by pursuing something more so we are going to remain friends. I don’t have feelings for you romantically and we can be best friends but that’s it.”

This response really surprised me because I know he has had feelings for me since we were teenagers and he has said that he has strong feelings for me before but now suddenly he doesn’t? Is he scared to be rejected again? I am really just trying to understand his behavior from a guys point of view.

p. s. I would be happy to just be friends with him if that is the best thing for me and him, I am just trying to understand his behavior.
Really need a male perspective - why is my guy friend acting like this?
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