My guy ‘friend’ called me and told me he was in love with me. Being a jokester or is that too deep for a male joke?

For context, him and I become close in a short space of time and quite quickly acknowledged we were attracted to each other. Due to circumstances we were just friends. No hooking up either even though we both did want to. I don’t want to get into details of why we kept each other at distance as I want to remain annon so don’t want to detail anything obvious just to be safe.

We were both very flirty but also jokey with eachother. He would refer to his parents as my in laws, call and message me everyday, verbalise lust for me but also be deep with me and tell me I’m amazing and I’m the type of person he wants to find for a relationship. At the beginning of our friendship he would talk to me about girls but then he stopped and would only say he really wants to find someone and be in a relationship. He could amongst that act dickish so it’s not all rainbows. But one day he called me and it went like this as soon as I answered
”*my name* I love you”
me “shutup”
him “*my name* I love you…. Im in love with you”
me “shutup you’re only saying this so I say it back and you laugh at me and throw it in my face”

conversation then just stopped and shifted.
Not awkwardly. He didn’t deny that accusation though.
I said it cos he would always tease me that I loved him and was obsessed with him. Not long after this he kind of ghosted me. We remained in somewhat contact but not much. He said he backed off for a reason and would tell me why when he had time but he never did so I let it go.

I was in love with him but honestly could never gauge how he genuinely felt. I guess I did get mixed signals. We’re both nearly 30 just to add. What signs do guys show if they don’t speak up? I’m thinking of professing my feelings to him after a long time of not speaking because I can’t shake it or him. My heart literally still hurts after so long but I don’t want things to be awkward because we still have mutual ties.
Updates
+1 y
To update so this assumption doesn’t get made again - Neither of us were in a relationship, the complications came from just being so new to each other and the ties we had within our lives. We both had already been married with kids involved. That complicates things alone but there were other factors involved that aren’t relevant
My guy ‘friend’ called me and told me he was in love with me. Being a jokester or is that too deep for a male joke?
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