Friends posting friends! Vanderpump Rules star Raquel Leviss reflects on her decision to post *that* photo with Tom Schwartz, revealing to Life & Style exclusively that she didn’t know the image would be “so polarizing” among Bravo fans.

“It’s a friendship thing. We’ve taken so many photos together before. I have photos of us in my camera roll and I just never posted them,” Raquel, 28, shares while promoting season 10 of Vanderpump Rules. “Because we were outside of Schwartz & Sandy’s, and I was wearing my cap, it was just a cute photo.”

Ahead of the season 10 premiere, Tom and Raquel made headlines for a kiss that happened in August 2022. Something which Raquel previously told Life & Style that she had “no regrets” about. However, the drama continued to escalate with Tom’s ex-wife, Katie Maloney, after Raquel posted a photo of herself and the restaurant owner outside Schwartz & Sandy’s on February 19.

“Just ‘cause,” the caption read. Katie, for her part, responded in the comments section, writing, “You really thought you did something here, but these comments ATE LOLOL.”

Vanderpump Rules’ Katie Maloney Slams Raquel Leviss for Tom Schwartz Photo: ‘Desperado’
Courtesy of Raquel Leviss/Instagram

In a second comment, the “You’re Gonna Love Me” podcast host added, “Nobody sad. … I’m dead! The amount of times the picture landed in my inbox, I couldn’t leave it alone. Desperado.”

Raquel tells Life & Style that she “just wanted just post a photo of my friend.” Instead, it created tons of drama. However, she’s keeping a good head on her shoulders amid the backlash.

“I’m not gonna say it’s easy, but I’ve developed a thick skin over the years,” the Bravo star admits. “I used to care so much about what other people thought of me, and I think that really limited like my self expression. I’m just, like, not caring anymore and I feel like that’s so freeing.”

As for where she and Tom stand now, there’s nothing romantic going on between them.

“I’m thinking back to like when this first kiss happened and just, whether or not we were gonna pursue dating,” Raquel recalls. “I think we both agreed that we’re better off as friends and we have a great friendship today.”

When it comes to the future of her love life, the former beauty pageant competitor is currently focusing on herself.

“I’m not in any rush,” she tells Life & Style. “I’m kind of dating myself. I am listening to self-help books. … It goes into self-discovery and why it’s important to work on yourself before you start seriously dating other people. I feel like with this breakup with James [Kennedy], I’m discovering so much about myself and I feel like I’m still coming into who I am to this day, but I feel like I’ve done that exponentially since that breakup happened. So I’m just on this trajectory.”

Reporting by Christina Garibaldi

Vanderpump Rules airs on Bravo on Wednesdays at 9 p.m.