This article attempts to summarise the main features of the balancing behaviour of small states. It focuses on the foreign policy of Mongolia and Nepal, two buff er small states, which are similar in many respects and for which the successful implementation of the balancing strategy is a guarantee of political and economic sovereignty. A close look at the policies of these two countries reveals deviations from what would be considered rational in the context of balancing from a realist point of view. Despite the durability of the underlying principles of their foreign policy, the actions of these countries often bear the imprint of affective and traditional types of behavior, as well as of the internal political situation, which leads to the conclusion that it is necessary to include domestic (civilizational, institutional, etc.) variables in the analysis and prognosis of balancing policy. The tools offered by neoclassical realists, who, while not denying the importance of external stimuli, emphasise the interference of internal factors (strategic culture, personal qualities of leaders, political system, nature of institutions etc.) in the decision-making process, provide ample opportunities for the synthesis of theoretical and country-specific knowledge. The evidence from Mongolia and Nepal shows how understanding the realities of a country or region can significantly reduce the likelihood of errors in predicting the behavior of countries. In addition, the article clarifies the role of the "third force/third neighbor" in the balancing strategy, assesses the prospects for the use of transit potential for the purpose of this strategy, and demonstrates the possibility of successful balancing under the condition of asymmetry between competing centres of power.