Not long after season 9 covered James and Raquel’s proposal, the twosome announced off screen that they had gone their separate ways.
“After these 5 wonderful years we had together, we decided we have two different goals and made the decision to call off the engagement,” James and Raquel wrote in identical statements after filming the reunion in December 2021. “We love each other very much, but we aren’t in love anymore. We want nothing but the best for each other so please keep any thoughts positive. Sending Love.”
Andy Cohen later revealed during a conversation with Ariana Maddox and Tom Sandoval that the breakup news came out “for the very first time” during the special.
During the interview on Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen, Ariana admitted that she was surprised by the news, saying, “We were just at Disneyland with them, like, two days before and I never would have thought anything was amiss, so we were very shocked.”
For Tom, the split was “probably the most surprising moment that we’ve had on Vanderpump Rules” in several years.
The Florida native noted that even though she didn’t know the reason why James and Raquel decided to call it quits, there were signs leading up to the news, adding, “I say this with nothing but love in my heart for James, I think when he stopped drinking and became sober there were other issues that he was not going to — his refusal to go to real therapy honestly is a huge red flag for me.”
Shortly after James and Raquel announced that they parted ways, a source exclusively told Us Weekly that the “hard decision” was the result of a “tumultuous relationship.”
“They both want different things,” the insider told Us. “They don’t have love anymore in terms of a romantic relationship, but they still have love for each other as friends. … They’re really trying to figure out what their lives look like now that they’ve split. They have a lot of admiration and respect for each other.”
Some viewers of the Bravo hit series weren’t as thrown by the offscreen development, pointing out that the pair’s relationship was far from perfect on the show. A major example was the way fans questioned James’ behavior when it came to Raquel considering plastic surgery.
“Raquel got a nose job. It didn’t go to plan. I don’t know if I want her to get the surgery because if it doesn’t go right again, what do you think that’s going to do to our relationship?” the former SUR busser shared with costar Lala Kent during a November 2021 episode. “No, I’m not going to leave her. But come on. Is that really fair?”
The musician clarified that his fiancée trying to fix her nose was an inconvenience for him, adding, “I don’t want a fiancée with a botched nose. There I f–king said it. I’m not a f–king a–hole, these are the facts.”
During a confessional interview in that same episode, James recalled how their first meeting in 2016 had a role to play in how he viewed their romance.
“Why did I want to take her home the night I met her on New Year’s Eve. Did I know how deep she was? Did I know how kind and patient she was that night?” he continued. “No. I knew that she was a 6-foot supermodel from California.”
Scroll down to see the signs in season 9 of Vanderpump Rules that James and Raquel were headed for a split: