Jennifer Aniston Rumors Were 'Hurtful,' Says Cougar Town's Josh Hopkins

10/21/2010 at 11:05 AM EDT

Jennifer Aniston Rumors Were 'Hurtful,' Says Cougar Town's Josh Hopkins
Jennifer Aniston and Josh Hopkins
Sara De Boer/Startraks; Pascal Le Segretain/Getty
A sampling of life in the Hollywood rumor mill has left Cougar Town's Josh Hopkins with a bad taste in his mouth.

In particular, the actor is still dismayed by a tabloid report that he wooed and then rejected Jennifer Aniston – a fabrication he says spread like "wildfire" after an innocent dinner in September with his actress friend.

"That was really, really weird and hurtful," Hopkins, 40, tells Parade. "I've been working in this business for a long time, and it's the first time I've ever found myself caught up in the middle of tabloid journalism."

Hopkins took the initial speculation about a possible romantic involvement with Aniston in stride – "There are worse people to be in a rumor with," he told PEOPLE – but later took offense to a report that he did get involved with Aniston, and treated her badly.

"It just felt dirty and invasive," he says. "It gave me so much empathy for real celebrities, people that have lived with this frenzied scrutiny for their entire life."

As for actual romantic involvements, Hopkins tells Parade a little bit about what he's seeking in a girlfriend.

"I look for sense of humor, and by that I just mean a girl that would laugh at my jokes," he says with a smile. "And I don't like real clingy. I like some independence, and I like them to have some independence, too."

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