Ironically, I think Pulaski was just starting to become a likable character before she left. I really loved what she did in "Peak Performance"
seeing right through Data's bullshit when Data denies having a bruised ego about losing and the way she encourages him to have some pride.
The scene where she comes to his quarters and tells him to stop sulking is lovely. I didn't like her much before that episode, but based on the way she was in it, I can actually imagine her turning into a character people enjoyed if she'd come back for season 3.
I prefer Crusher, though, and I do like the way her relationship with Picard was depicted. I thought it was very realistic and intelligent the way they were written to have romantic tension that they couldn't actually turn into a relationship because of their history.
It would have been so much easier and lazier for the writers to throw them together just to have some more romance on the show (which I think explains the ill-advised Worf and Troi coupling), but the writers simply kept them close friends with romantic undertones and I respect that. Methinks Kate doth protest too much.
I don't recall them going from deeply in love to just friends episode to episode. Picard confessed to being in love with her in one episode, she didn't reciprocate, and that was the extent of it.