How does my best friend (also friends with benefits) feel about me?

Anonymous
I have a really good friend that I got closer to this summer. We met two years ago in the same college apartment complex. This summer however we hung out almost every day for 2 months, at the 2 month mark I kissed him... I’m not sure why. After that we become more and more intimate. We had a conversation very early on that we didn’t have feelings romantically for each other. Towards the end of the summer I ask if he would want to try going out for real (my feelings grew into interest). He said no and he doesn’t think he’ll ever feel romantically for me. I tried to give us space but both of us rely on enough other (it made him feel distressed when I told him I need space, and the whole time we didn’t talk he couldn’t sleep). we are really good friends and he texts me every day, hangouts out with me often alone or with other friends. Everyone who sees us together thinks we’re dating and the way he stares at me doesn’t feel platonic. He tells me that I’m important to him, but still says he doesn’t have romantic feelings for me. We finally decided to pull back physically at the end of the month, but this is the 3rd time we’ve tried to do that. Others even say that he gives me the ‘puppy dog’ lovey dovey eyes. I know my friend cares deeply about me, but I feel confused about how he sees me. We’ve both been going on dates with other people, and I have men interested in me all the time. (3 guys confessed they liked me this month)
How does my best friend (also friends with benefits) feel about me?
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