「は」vs. 「には」

I have a basic understanding of how to use 「は」and 「には」in sentences (and hopefully getting better every day). I came across a new sentence and now I’m a bit unsure.

私はたくさん友達がいます。
私にはたくさん友達がいます。

As far as I’m aware, both mean “I have many friends.” How does the use of 「には」affect the meaning of the sentence? Is one used more frequently, or is one of them ungrammatical?

Thank you in advance!

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My grammar dictionary has には indicating purpose. So the two sentences are:
I have many friends
There are many friends for me

I’ve never seen it used with 私 before though

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には can be used as a conjunction in order to mean “for the purpose of” or “In order to.”
For example:
日本を知るには日本語を学ぶのが一番だ。
“The best way to learn about Japan is to study Japanese.”
(lit. “For the sake of learning about Japan, studying Japanese is the best.”)

Otherwise, it usually is just a combination of に (marking direction/location) and は (contrast or making the topic). When being used this way, you can use it the same way you’d normally use に. For example:
事務所には誰もいなかった
“There was no one in the office.”

For your sentences, I don’t believe 私には友達がいます is correct, because you wouldn’t say 私に友達がいます. (Friends are in me?). I’m not entirely confident that it’s wrong, but it sounds a bit off to me.
Edit: It seems this kind of sentence is actually fine, my mistake.

However, you can use 私には in sentences like 私には理解ができません, which literally means something like “the ability to understand (that) is not within me.” Or 私には心がある. “There is a heart inside of me.”

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Sentences like this are fine.

私には友達がいます
私には彼女がいます

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Good to know, thanks.

“As for me, I have a lot of friends” makes more sense to me. Implying “in order to” in the translations doesn’t sound right to me.

There are a couple nuances to には (see 3), Bunpro lumps them together to practice both, probably since it’s close enough for the entry. The blue dictionary has the nuance under にとって which sound more accurate in this context (p279 if you have it)

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I think this is just adding the topic marker to に.

So how does the sentence’s meaning change if I say 「私に友達がいます」? I don’t think I’ve seen 「に」used in this way before…

Using には here is the main way to phrase these kinds of things when talking about yourself.

私には兄が二人います

If you aren’t using the topic particle, I think it’s more common to just omit the pronoun altogether rather than say it without the は. You could just use に without the は, but it doesn’t seem as common.

友達がいます
彼女がいます
兄が二人います

Here’s a stack exchange question about using に like this.

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This has been really enlightening, thank you!