When Rachel Leviss Realized Tom Sandoval Was 'James 2.0' — and Why “Vanderpump Rules ”Is 'All He Has'

Leviss claimed that Sandoval may having using their affair to get attention as "the success of the show equals longevity in his career"

<p>Amanda Edwards/Getty; Steve Granitz/FilmMagic; River Callaway/Variety via Getty</p>

Amanda Edwards/Getty; Steve Granitz/FilmMagic; River Callaway/Variety via Getty

Rachel “Raquel” Leviss is questioning if her relationship with Tom Sandoval was all for show.

The Bravo alum, 29, pondered whether Sandoval, 41, was using their shocking months-long affair — which ended his nine-year relationship with Ariana Madix — to stay relevant on Vanderpump Rules.

“I definitely didn't mastermind this [affair]. I think I fell into this situation and just didn't know how to handle it,” she said on the latest episode of her Rachel Goes Rogue podcast. “The thought has crossed my mind, like: Did Tom mastermind this? He is known to self-produce, and all he has is this show.”

Related: Rachel Leviss Says Tom Sandoval Was 'Acting' in Their Relationship and 'Fooled' Her the First Night They Hooked Up

<p>Santiago Felipe/Getty, River Callaway/Variety via Getty</p> Rachel Leviss and Tom Sandoval

Santiago Felipe/Getty, River Callaway/Variety via Getty

Rachel Leviss and Tom Sandoval

Leviss further noted that “the success of the show equals longevity in his career,” adding, “He's over 40 now, and this is his life, this is his main income.”

The former pageant queen admitted the pair had discussed how their relationship would be portrayed on screen.

“When we did have conversations like, ‘How is this going to play out?’ He said, ‘One of the pros is we can be together next season,’” she recalled. “And so, not to say he’s the mastermind behind it. I think he had his motivation behind it that really escalated the situation. Whereas if it wasn’t a reality TV show and we weren’t all filming, I don’t know if it would be like this.”

When asked if she thought there was a real future between her and Sandoval, Levis said intensive therapy had helped her realize she was trying “to get some wound healed” from her childhood by being with Sandoval.

She ultimately came to the realization of “Oh my God, my inner child chose Tom — this 40-year-old? Like, no! I’m like, ‘No, honey!’”

Related: Rachel Leviss Has a 'List of Resentments' and Shares Her 'Hard Boundary' Against Speaking to 1 VPR Costar Again

After the affair became public knowledge, Leviss said she saw a different side to Sandoval and even compared him to her ex-fiancé (who's also a VPR star) James Kennedy, from whom she split in 2021.

She notes that "a lot of his character came forward, and, ugh, the way that he would talk to my parents, it just seemed like a James 2.0 situation, and I won't allow that in my relationships anymore.”

<p>Vivien Killilea/Getty </p> Raquel Leviss and Tom Sandoval attend White Fox After Hours At Delilah Los Angeles on October 18, 2022

Vivien Killilea/Getty

Raquel Leviss and Tom Sandoval attend White Fox After Hours At Delilah Los Angeles on October 18, 2022

Related: Rachel Leviss Swears Off Dating for a Year as She Reflects on 'Smiling' Through 'Painful Traumatic Memories'

On a previous episode of Rachel Goes Rogue, Leviss questioned Sandoval's intentions for fostering a closer, more intimate relationship with her when she was still processing her broken engagement to Kennedy.

“He knew I was going through this heartbreak, and I’ve heard him say on his interviews ‘Oh, Raquel really was coming into her own.’ And that’s what attracted him to me," she said. But now, "I’m like, 'You a--hole. You could have just let me be. Like, let me live. Why can’t you cheer me on as a friend?'"

Leviss also shared the “biggest way” Sandoval betrayed her was “filming me without my consent.” The comment come nearly one year after Sandoval's now-ex Madix, 38, found an intimate video on his phone — one that Leviss has since said was screen-recorded without her knowledge. The discovery prompted Madix to immediately end their relationship. VPR cameras resumed filming, despite having concluded production for season 10 months before, and the rest is Emmy-nominated history.

Now Leviss sums up, “I can see the impact the show had on my decisions, the impact that my trauma and my connection with Tom had on those decisions, and my trust in him and betraying myself in that process. I’ve been able to see a lot clearer now. That’s what I needed. I needed that space to gain that clarity.”

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Vanderpump Rules season 11 premieres Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on Bravo.

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