It sounds like with all the hurting you both did to each other that he has gotten fed up with the never ending cycle of infidelity and mistrust and that he truly needs to see and understand what he wants and needs from your relationship and also a relationship period. I would at least give him a month or so to think about things and then ask him what he wants to do about the relationship so that you will know whether to wait or move on but in the meantime while you are waiting you should already be setting yourself up for possibly having to move on without him depend on what he decides and tells you about the relationship.
If he stated that he wants to break up then that is what he wants for now and I think he told you he still loves you because he honestly does and wants you to wait for him how every long it will take and it's up to you to know how long you are willing to wait or even if you're willing to wait. Since he said he doesn't want any contact while he is thinking that makes me believe that he is truly ready to break up and date other people and didn't want to walk away thinking he devastated you in any way. What you have to do is take this time to find closure in the relationship while he is thinking and tell him you will wait a month and then call him to see what is going on with the relationship and if things haven't changed I would serious thinking about starting the closure process. In this case I think your friends are right he wanted to let you down easier or ease his conscience so that the break up wouldn't be so hurtful.