Tom Sandoval Says He 'Would Have Done Anything' for Rachel Leviss During Affair: 'That Connection Was Real'

"We knew everything about each other. It was a very safe, accepting place and very positive in a lot of ways," the 'Vanderpump Rules' star said of his bond with Leviss

<p>Santiago Felipe/Getty, River Callaway/Variety via Getty</p> From left: Rachel "Raquel" Leviss and Tom Sandoval

Santiago Felipe/Getty, River Callaway/Variety via Getty

From left: Rachel "Raquel" Leviss and Tom Sandoval

Tom Sandoval is looking back on his affair with Rachel Leviss, but insists it was way more than just a fling.

The Vanderpump Rules star, 40, appeared on the latest installment of Bravo's Hot Mic podcast, where he opened up about his connection with Leviss, 29.

Asked by host and VPR executive producer Alex Baskins if any of it "was real" or if he was simply getting from Leviss what he didn't get from his then-girlfriend Ariana Madix, Sandoval said, "I think it was, all of it, I really do."

The Tom Sandoval and the Most Extras band member pointed out that he and Leviss "spent a ridiculous amount of time ... It’s embarrassing to say ... but we spent so much time together, talking and getting to know each other.  We knew everything about each other. It was a very safe, accepting place and very positive in a lot of ways."

Related: Rachel Leviss Feels 'Empowered' 1 Year After Scandoval, Can See 'Light at the End of the Tunnel' (Exclusive)

Vivien Killilea/Getty Images Rachel "Raquel" Leviss and Tom Sandoval
Vivien Killilea/Getty Images Rachel "Raquel" Leviss and Tom Sandoval

Sandoval said while he believes his "connection" with Leviss was "real," it ultimately turned into an "escapism."

"It initially was one thing. And then it grew into something else," he recalled. "But yeah, the feelings ... at one point, I would have done anything for her. You know what I mean? Like, for real, like anything."

Sandoval and Madix, 38, had been together for nine years when Madix allegedly discovered a video that was in a sexual nature between Sandoval and Leviss. Madix also found "a history of inappropriate texts" between them, leading to the discovery of Sandoval and Leviss's months-long affair.

The revelation sparked a bombshell scandal (a.k.a. Scandoval), making it one of the most talked-about moments among the cast, viewers, and the Bravoverse, as well as the end of Sandoval and Madix's relationship.

Related: VPR: Ariana Demands Sandoval 'Stop Speaking to Me' but He's Partly Baffled as to Why They're Not 'Civil' (Exclusive)

On Hot Mic, Sandoval confessed that he "should have just pulled the trigger" on his relationship with Madix.

"If you would have asked me a year ago or longer ago, I would very arrogantly and confidently say, I will never get myself in a situation like that, anything like that, so confidently," he said. "And then it just happens and you're just like, holy. I'm looking back and I'm still in disbelief. How that could just happen?"

<p>Amanda Edwards/Getty</p> Tom Sandoval, Ariana Madix circa 2022

Amanda Edwards/Getty

Tom Sandoval, Ariana Madix circa 2022

As for how he'd do things differently if he had the chance, Sandoval said he wouldn't be so focused on having the "perfect breakup."

"I think I was so wrapped up and trying because obviously I care for Ariana," he explained. "I was so wrapped up and trying to have the most perfect breakup. I looked at Tom [Schwartz] and Katie [Maloney's] breakup and I wanted to be even better. And I think I was wrapped up in trying to do things perfectly."

He said he soon found himself instead, "delaying the inevitable" and "delaying the hurt that's going to come" considering he and Madix were together for nearly a decade.

"I was doing this process, trying to make it perfect, but I should have just pulled the trigger and done it. I should have backed off when I felt feelings and really, really tried to get to the root of where those were coming from and if they were just for this person or the need to feel loved because I was lacking so much love," he said. "I was yearning for it. ..I was yearning for that admiration in my life that I wasn't getting. And so when I got it, it became intoxicating to me."

Though Sandoval and Leviss remained close after the affair was exposed, the two have since gone their separate ways, with Leviss choosing to cut her former costar out of her life.

“Rachel made the decision that it was healthiest to cut Tom out of her life completely and despite his attempts of writing and calling, she ceased communications with him while in the trauma therapy center,” a source told PEOPLE in September. "She spent months at the facility doing nothing but taking accountability for her actions and learning what drove her decisions in addition to giving multiple apologies. A large part of her mental health journey is leaving behind toxic people, especially those with questionable intentions towards her."

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Vanderpump Rules airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Bravo.

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